Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Gal's 2017 Halloween Frivolities Day 15: Grant's Character Has Spoken


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hi, Captain Blake.  I'm excited to have you here.  Welcome to The Gal.  Some of my readers have yet to read your story.  What should they know about you?

Captain Redvers Blake:
As little as p-p-possible.  But if you insist, I am Redvers Blake, a servant of the King, as they say.  M-m-military intelligence.  I find people, I see that they talk, and I see that they hang.  I work alone, or with Special Branch.  Only a sadist would want the job; only a fool would take it.  I class myself in the latter category.  M-m-my choices were limited.  I am, without choice or desire, a 'sensitive.'  I can't imagine a more inappropriate word.  I t-t-touch the world, and it speaks to me, whether I want it to or not.  And yes, I have an occasional stammer.  Ignore it.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you believe in?

Captain Redvers Blake:
The ability of humanity to deceive itself.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What haunts you?

Captain Redvers Blake:
Africa, and the black veldt. Shapes in the night, the moment when my finger presses down on the trigger. Enough to kill hope in a m-m-more thoughtful person. And the look in men’s eyes – in women’s, too. Their eyes should be worse, I suppose, but they’re not.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any phobias?

Captain Redvers Blake:
Military intelligence.  If you worked there, you'd understand.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's the worst thing that has ever happened to you?

Captain Redvers Blake:
No comment.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Are you lying to yourself about anything?

Captain Redvers Blake:
As often as p-p-possible.  Particularly about what Henry Dodgson likes to call 'my gift.'  But such lies rarely bring any comfort.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What was your childhood like?

Captain Redvers Blake:
Comfortable and untroubled.  An appalling p-p-preparation for life and the inevitable horror of the world.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Were your actions the result of freedom of choice or of destiny?

Captain Redvers Blake:
I make choices.  Nothing is foretold or destined, except that our choices will b-b-be, for the most part, poor ones.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
If you could go back in time and change anything, would you?

Captain Redvers Blake:
I would never have fought the Boer, nor taken another man’s orders. I would have come from a long line of greengrocers, and settled down with three children and a pipe. My father might still be alive, and my m-m-mother sane. Does that satisfy you?

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What does your name mean to you?

Captain Redvers Blake:
Nothing.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What scars, birthmarks, tattoos, or other identifying marks do you have?  What stories lie behind them?

Captain Redvers Blake:
Hardly something a captain in Military Intelligence should answer.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How do you see yourself?

Captain Redvers Blake:
In a poor light.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How does your enemy see you?

Captain Redvers Blake:
Through prison b-b-bars, or in that moment before the hangman’s hood goes over their eyes. If they consider me at all before those moments, then they are usually wrong about what they see. We trade in deception. 

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How does the author see you?

Captain Redvers Blake:
He has some understanding of who I am. What I carry inside me, he holds at a distance, and thinks that fictions can disguise the sour taste of what I must do. It p-p-protects him from truly examining my existence.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Why do you think the author chose to write about your story?  Do you think they did a good job?

Captain Redvers Blake:
He saw a man he could not be – he has no stomach for it. And I think it amuses him to write about small things – the sunlight on a window pane before the bullet hits it; the dawn chorus that delights us all before the funeral. My unfortunate situation piqued his interest. He does a tolerable job.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think about the ending?

Captain Redvers Blake:
It is the truth, inasmuch as it could be. He avoids going into the consequences, the aftermath, but who wouldn’t? It is, however, only an ending for him. He can turn to his small comforts and be rid of me. I c-c-cannot.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?  Would you change anything about the story told? Did they miss anything?

Captain Redvers Blake:
Accurately enough, but a house-dog can never explain a fox. I might have made him miss out my stammer, but I suppose he uses it for cheap effect. And as for my time working with Holmes, I would have been more blunt about how irritating the man was. I can live with the rest.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Have you read any of your authors' other works?  Any good?

Captain Redvers Blake:
His portrayal of Mr Dry, the so-called Deptford Assassin, intrigues me, m-m-mildly. It must be a relief to be able to take lives and have no care, no regrets, I imagine. As for the author’s other whimsies, I don’t have the time. Military Intelligence, if I need to repeat myself...


About the author:
John Linwood Grant writes dark historical horror and weird fiction, including the Mamma Lucy tales of 1920s hoodoo and the St. Botolph folk-horror parodies.  With some thirty stories published, he is also editor of Occult Detective Quarterly, plus forthcoming anthologies.  His 2017 collection A Persistence of Geraniums - stories of Edwardian murder, madness and the supernatural - has been widely praised, whilst his popular website Grey Dog Tales explores weird fiction and weird art.


About the book:
"You are no John Watson, Captain Blake."
            "Indeed not.  He is courageous, steadfast, and many other noble things.  I have no d-d-delusions about my own character.  I lie, p-p-perjure myself, and deceive d-d-decent folk.  In the last week alone I've killed a man with the revolver you saw, and p-p-probably sent at least one other to the gallows."

The Edwardian Era has begun its rot into modernity, exchanging all the virtues of Dr. John H. Watson for the vices of Captain Redvers Blake.  But a case from Watson's era resurges in the present, ensnaring a high official in what may be a ring of German spies.  Not any mere ring of bombs and petrol, but a ring of spiritualism and seances.
            The former case was one of Holmes' failures.  Despite an illustrious employer, despite Holmes' warnings, and despite a vengeful fire, a young woman married a monster and slipped beyond the Great Detective's ken.  Now, she returns to his notice, hostess to the seance ring.
            As England prepares for war, Sherlock Holmes and Captain Redvers Blake must solve these two entwined cases at once.
            All this, to say nothing of 427 Cheyne Walk's new residents and their role...


No comments: